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Get it done / Planning to plan

Carol Siracuse and Tom Palamuso

Photo by kc kratt


No matter the size of your project or team, planning helps. Carol Siracuse and Tom Palamuso, a retired architect and interior designer/facilities manager respectively, execute amazing home and garden projects as a team, and, linked by their iPhones, maintain their “punch lists.”


“When I start a planning process with a client or with Carol, what I say is: forget about your budget, forget about your restrictions. What is your dream? What do you want to do? How do you want the space to feel?” says Palamuso. Sit down with your partner or a friend, think about the best outcomes, make a list. For example, when Tom worked with a friend on a kitchen, they said, “It is so dark in here; it is always dark. Every time I open a drawer, it is jam packed. I’m not really a big cook, I’m more interested in having people standing around and having a conversation.”


Second list, according to Siracuse: “What are the things that are going to get in the way? What will create a go or a stop: zoning, enough room, your funds?  Then you can think about how you get around those limitations.”


On the kitchen project, with space and dollars limitations, but no serious cooking happening, balancing the two lists might lead to smaller appliances making room for more lighting, a bigger window, more drawers, and an island for people to gather around for finger food and a good gab.


These two lists combine to form a planning document, which should make it clear what needs to happen first, and what pieces of the project are contingent on others. This becomes the basis for knowing, say, when to get the quarter rounds for the toe kicks painted, so that you can then nail them into place, so that you can schedule the electrician, and not have to reschedule.


Communication is key, and a calendar is a great tool. Palamuso creates a calendar for each major project. “That calendar then becomes the agenda for the meeting with my general contractor,” he says. Sharing a calendar, as Siracuse and Palamuso do, means there’s no way either one can say they didn’t see it.


In short: Dream big. Define limitations. Make the tough choices.  Schedule your team. Make sure everyone understands expectations. Check in on your calendar regularly, and be prepared to shift schedules.


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